Analysis published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) in the most recent issue of the journal Science examine the relationship between public and private investments in research and development (R&D) and their importance in agricultural input industries. The Science article is drawn from a recent ERS study that provides new details on the rapid growth and changing composition of private investments in global agricultural R&D and traces the implications for agriculture.
Findings reported in the Science article include:
* Globally, about half or more of all private investment in food and agricultural research and development have been devoted to food manufacturing, not toward input industries and other areas that directly increase agricultural production.
* Recent increases in private agricultural input research have mostly centered on crops, including farm machinery and some biofuels investments; livestock-related research and crop protection chemicals have experienced less growth.
* Research into biofuels has become increasingly important, with estimated global investments by private companies at approximately $1.47 billion in 2009.
* In both crop seed and animal breeding, biotechnology research was an important driver of consolidation in these industries.
* Private spending contributed to the overall growth in R&D for agricultural in the face of slowing or stagnant public R&D resources, but addressed a narrower set of research topics and input industries than publicly funded R&D.
* Public policies have a major influence on private-sector incentives to invest in agricultural research. Intellectual property protection, regulatory frameworks, and especially, public investments in basic science that opens up new technological opportunities, have been important drivers of the growth of private agricultural R&D.
The article can be found at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6110/1031.full.